India is a country of many ethnic groups with myriad tongues, over a thousand spoken languages and dialects. Ours is the second-most populous country. There are many religions, sects, and beliefs here. It is the land of numerous modes of apparel and countless manners. There are many diversities and heavy odds. The continental size of the county largely accounts for the variations and diversities. At times, the wide differences are seen to predominate and the resultant disharmony seems to be an irremediable phenomenon. The cynics regard the Indians as quarrelsome on the basis of recurring communal riots and secessionist activity in the North and the North-East. They ignore the vital factor that a common stream runs through these diversities. They even fail to note the unity and similarity of outlook from East to West and North to South.
The dynamism and flexibility of Indian culture have enabled it to survive in spite of its many diversities, Indian culture can be called a synthetic culture because it has imbibed many external influences. It is the constitutional duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. They are also duty-bound to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst the people of India transcending all the narrow considerations of languages. regions. sections and religions. The people of India hold different views on life, religion, political, economic and social systems but they are mentally one.
The people of India have always honored saints, sages, philosophers and religious preachers, the leaders who fought for political and cultural freedom of the people have commanded loyal following. The assimilation of the thinking of other cultures has not only enriched the Indian culture but also made it invincible. A good part of the western concepts has been Adopted in the Indian way of living and thinking in urban areas. Both the western culture and the Eastern Indian culture are tolerated in our country through the former lays stress on materialism and the latter on spiritualism.
Communal clashes and endless discords sometimes occur in our country. They are the creations of selfish politicians who re out at disrupting the peace in the country but the broad outlook of the leaders who believe in Common Motherland and fraternity again unite them. The people all over India hold a similar outlook on moral and spiritual values. Though there are people in India who are virtual rebels in thought and deed and re destructive in nature towards one another yet they are loyal o their country.
There is no effort to impose one religion on others in our secular state. The people enjoy the freedom of thought and expression and show reverence for every faith. Though the people of different states and lingual groups have differences et they try to keep them within decent limits and resolve their differences by peaceful means. An awareness of common nationality has fully developed in the minds of the people. As a result, they are co-operating with each other in economic, social and political walks of life.
All religions have a basic common feature. Only the misinterpretation of religion causes conflicts among the followers t different religious faiths. Human beings are fundamentally the same. They also hold the same deep values. The ‘(‘tween then) ate related to external matter and are temporary.
They are alterable with the change in social conditions. No religion teaches us to breed enmity for the followers of other religions. Every religion rather teaches us to be faithful to the inner voice of conscience and to worship work devotedly. All the religions are different ways to worship the same God. Religion can shape the character and integrity of mankind.
The country witnesses some forces of disintegration showing their ugly head now and then. Education is a patent integrating instrument. Generally, educated people do not contribute to national disunity. The activities of expansion of all languages, all religions, all communities, all interests, and attitudes are the, surest way of achieving national and emotional integration. The efficient system of transport and communication also contribute to national unity. Law should be given more teeth to root out the canker of communalism wherever it raises its head. The miscreants should be dealt with an iron hand. All these measures will bring unity in diversity.
The present nations are very big and are spread over vast areas. Their population runs into crores. Hence it is quite impossible for all the people to sit together and take political decisions. Therefore, they cannot take part in the administration of their country’ directly.
Democracy means the government of the people, for the people and by the people. In a modern democracy, everything depends on representation. So the representatives are chosen to the legislature through elections. Everybody in a modern democracy above a certain specified age has the right to vote until he/she is disqualified by law. Since the government affects all the citizens, hence it must be responsive to all. All the citizens in a democracy have an equal right to participate in the activities of the government through their spokesmen without any discrimination of caste, creed, color, sex or status. Every citizen under the democratic set up enjoys the right to cast one vote to express his choice. The voter can vote in favor of the candidate of his choice through the system of secret ballot papers. Neither the candidate nor the political parties are in a position to know which citizens have voted for or against him.
The schedule of the election is announced by the election commission. The candidates who aspire to fight the election have to fill in and file their nomination papers. The candidate assesses his own position and chances when the picture of the contest becomes clear. If he smells the unfavorable trend of the voters, he can withdraw his name within the time limit prescribed for the same. The candidates in the fray start their election campaign through posters, election meetings, pre-election speeches, processions for group canvassing, personal contact with the voters and television and radio. The candidates explain their objectives, schemes, and line of action through election manifestoes.
The election manifesto gives a clear picture to the Voters what the party intends to achieve or perform on winning the election. It also serves as a record of the achievements, lapses, and failures of the ruling party It provides the guidelines for the elected candidates to work according to the party’s pre-planning.
A candidate uses some symbol to fight an election. If he fights on behalf of a recognized political party, he is normally allotted the symbol of his respective party. The candidates who fight the election independently can be allotted any symbol by the election commissioner. The election commission fixes the entire program of the elections. It provides equal facilities to all the voters and the political parties. It arranges for the safeguard of the voters. It prepares the copies of Electoral Rolls. It also fixes election booths and gets the ballot papers printed. It appoints the election staff. There is an indirect system of election in the modern nation-states through a secret ballot. It enables the voter to cast his vote freely, fearlessly and willfully. The candidate, his workers, and supporters begin canvassing for votes. They try to convince every voter to vote in his favor. The election campaign has to be stopped at least 48 hours before the actual potting.
The voters visit the polling stations on the day of the poll. They get the ballot papers bearing the names and symbols of the candidates fighting the elections. The voter fixes the rubber stamp mark against the names and symbols of his choice in the secret voting chamber. Then he folds the ballot paper and puts it into the ballot box. The ballot boxes are sealed and sent for counting. The votes are counted in the presence of the candidates. The returning officer declares those candidates -as elected who poll the largest number of votes.
The people form groups to serve their personal interests. They use force to achieve the objectives of their own circles. A political party is a group of leaders and their followers. It believes in political programs. Its main aim is the achievement of national development and welfare.
In some countries, people form political parties to safeguard the communal and economic interests of the people. There are many political parties in India like the Akali Dal in Punjab and A.I.D.M.K. and D.M.K. in Tamil Nadu to safeguard their regional interests. In the same manner, the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha are organized in India to promote the religious interests of their respective communities. The Communist Party in China and U.S.S.R. are organized on the basis of some social ideologies.
There can be no democracy without political parties. The political parties impart political education to the masses to form public opinion. Their members must form themselves into an organization which must aim at furthering national interests. They must strive to gain power through peaceful and constitutional means.
The political parties impart political instructions to the masses and keep them well-informed about the current national problems. They guide the masses and apprise them of their roles and rights. They place the grievances of the public before the government. In this way, they serve as a link between the government and the public. They lend full support to their candidates in fighting the election. They also keep their representatives to the legislature in the discipline.
India has a multi-party system like Italy and France. Many small and large political parties remain in the field under this system. The prominent political parties in India are congress (I and S), the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Janata Party, the Lok Dali the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the C.P.I. etc.
The voters under the multi-party system are at liberty to choose their representatives out of a heap of candidates and parties. The citizens can express their views more freely and the government’s dictatorial trend gets checked.
The multi-party system has many inherent disadvantages. If a single party fails to get the absolute majority, the coalition governments are formed. It renders the government unstable and weak. It may dissolve any time on account of floor-crossing and frequent defections. This system encourages the elected representatives to change sides. The opportunists never miss the chance of exploiting the voters and their associates under the temptation of monetary gains or some high office.
Such defectors can betray the nation in the hour of peril or trial. Hence it promotes corruption and individualism. The defectors should be condemned since they betray the trust of their voters, supporters and parties reposed in them. The common voter fails to get a clear view of the policies and programs of different candidates and political parties. No strong policy or big plans of national development can be pursued under this system if there is a want of absolute majority in the government.
The political parties serve as the backbone of democracy if politicians of sound moral character, integrity, and national feelings join them. The betrayers and opportunists should be discarded in the interest of the party and the people (nation).
Role of Opposition Parties in Democracy
Democracy meant only political democracy in ancient societies. The feudal lords and the rich people alone could take part in running the government/administration then. The slaves were in the majority. They were not the citizens. Therefore, they did not enjoy any rights. Democracy was only for the Masters who ran it for their own interest.
Modern democracy means that the entire power of running the government and deciding the administrative matters lies in the hands of the people /citizens who enjoy equal rights. The people take part in the administration directly or indirectly. Their representatives from laws in the Legislative bodies keeping in view the good of the people. All the people above a particular age are deemed as citizens and enjoy equal rights. They can remove their representative from office if he fails to come up to their expectations. This type of democracy is known as ‘Indirect Democracy’. The elected representatives are held responsible to the people for their functions and activities. The ruled and the rulers are two separate entities but the people are the real source of power.
No democratic government can long be secure without a healthy, effective, vigilant, wide-awake and formidable opposition. The leader of the opposition is accorded official recognition and is provided several facilities in some parliamentary democracies. It is a fact that the ruling party tends to get complacent and tardy in the absence of an alert opposition. It is the function of the opposition party to expose the wrong policies and functions of the ruling party and check and criticize their acts of omission and commission. The ruling party tries its level best to provide an efficient and sound administration lest it should be voted out of power.
Democracy is reduced to an empty show if there is a weak opposition. The opposition parties are the guardians and watchdogs of the public interest. The members of the opposition party ask the minister questions, and table adjournment or no-confidence motions. They criticize the wrong policies and plans of the government. In this way, they keep a check on the activities of the government within the parliament. The opposition parties play an important role even outside the parliament. They organize rallies, demonstrations, and agitations and prepare a strong public opinion against the ruling party and its actions and policies.
It is a matter of common experience that opposition generally behaves irresponsibly. It indulges, itself in unhealthy and destructive criticism instead of constructive discussions. In this way, it endangers the entire democratic fabric. Some opposition parties launch violent agitations and create lawlessness. They also invite the public to rise in revolt and create the situation of a civil war. Thus, they disrupt the normal functioning of the administration. Their irresponsible conduct poses a threat to national integration and stability. They also hinder the peaceful economic development.
There is no denying the fact that opposition is essential for a sound working of a democracy. The opposition should aim at keeping the government on its toes and to prevent misuse of power. It is generally viewed that the opposition parties give top priority to their personal and party interests. Unhealthy and undisciplined opposition creates confusion and Chaos. The party, in power also imposes various undue restrictions and suppresses their opinion and voice both inside and outside the legislature. This undemocratic and authoritarian tendency also paralyzes democracy. The opposition parties are not allowed to use media lest they should turn the public opinion in their favor. It is for the benefit of the nation that both the ruling party and the opposition should observe the rules of the game and ensure the smooth functioning of the democracy.
Need For Electoral Reforms in India
India is a democratic form of government. It requires politically conscious people, well-organized opposition and the proper type of representation for its smooth running. People belonging to different religions, castes, languages, and traditions live in India.
Therefore, representation of all the interests of the different sections of the society is the crying need Of the country. It is a pity that different constituencies are re-organized with a view to suiting the interest of the party in power at the times of elections. Money plays a dominant role in determining election results. The single-member constituency system is defective. As a result, any party is known as the majority party even if she gets less than 50 percent votes. This type of representation shows that the government is not virtually a representative government. Therefore, we feel the need for electoral reforms.
Shri Jaya Prakash Narayan’s suggestions and the Janta Party’s promises to reform the electoral system proved hollow. In the defective single-member constituency system, any candidate who gets the maximum percentage of votes is elected even though be might have secured 30per cent votes. It shows that 70 percent of voters are against him. As a result, the parliament itself is not truly representative of the views of the people. Proportional representation is one of its best substitutes. Some people say that proportional representation leads to social, political and economic collapse. It also involves a proliferation of political parties, instability or the perpetual changes of government arising from shifting coalition.
However, these arguments have been refuted. According to the suggestions of Tarkunde Committee only a candidate who polls more than 50 percent of the valid votes in the constituency, should be declared elected. The remaining seats will be filled not by direct elections but in proportion to the votes polled by the political parties from out of its list of candidates. As a result, the total strength of the party in the legislature will be in proportion of the votes polled by it. The proposals of the committee are relevant to Indian conditions. The Indian government with a dependable majority has no constitutional check on its actions.
The electoral system should prevent this type of defective minority rule. In India, it is possible to change the constitution by a 2/3 majority of the members of the Lok Sabha elected by less than 50 percent of the voters. Election expenses are also a problem in India. The limit of expenses on education should be doubled. The expenditure incurred by the political party in connection with the election of a candidate, as distinguished from expenditure on general party propaganda must be included in his election expenses.
The political parties should be called upon to account for the expenses incurred by them for the election campaign of their candidates. The parties spend lavishly to defeat the independent candidates who are not sponsored by any political party. The powerful parties make nonsense of reform measures and do not account for their expenses. The black money has resulted in disturbing our economy. Reducing the age for the eligible voters would mean the participation of a very large number of people in the elections. As a result, the elections would become more expensive and unmanageable.
Moreover, the fate of elections would be decided by school and college children, Anyway, it is necessary to make electoral reforms for the survival of Indian democracy and to create confidence among the people,
The system of administration which is related to the development of villages is known as the “Panchayati Raj’. In this system, rural people enjoy the right to run the administration of their respective villages to bring about the desired development. The village Panchayats run their administration and solve their problems by means of their limited resources. They themselves frame and enforce the developmental projects. The government and its officials provide them both monetary grants and proper guidance and assistance. They do not hang about the courts for the settlement of their petty disputes concerning land, water, and farming, etc.
The Panchayati rule was in vogue in India since times immemorial. It was shattered during the British rule. Gandhiji was in favor of reorganizing the Panchayats to make the villages self-reliant. Our constitution also desired that the states should take measures to organize and strengthen village panchayats. The Panchayati Raj Act was passed first of all in U.P. in 1950. Under this act, numerous powers were bestowed on the Panchayats. This system was subdivided into Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat and Gram Adalat (village courts). The Block Samitis are elected by the Panchayats to keep an eye on their activities. Their aim is to bring out all-round development of the villages located in their jurisdiction. To meet their objective, they formulate community development plans and launch them in their regions.
The Zila Parishads co-ordinate the activities and audit the budgets of the Panchayat Samitis. They make efforts for the collective development of Panchayat Samitis and give suggestions to the government regarding the developments of the villages. They also launch the governmental plans.
The Panchayati Raj System has set up direct democracy in India. It has also established the people’s own rules in the villages. It is a sort of campaign for bringing about all-round development in rural life. It is a pity that groupism, casteism, and ruffianism have cost their dark shadow on our glorious dream of Panchayati Raj. As a result, the administrative decentralization is unmethodical and the Mandal Panchayats do not have active participation in the administrative activities of the district. Political intervention and corruption; bureaucracy and aristocracy have a monopoly on them. As a result, the Panchayati Raj System has utterly failed in sowing the seeds of democracy in India and in bringing about social changes.
The Panchayats have been granted constitutional status. Therefore, the slate legislative will formulate laws for their structure. Panchayats shall be constituted in every state at the village, block and district levels and [Sowers will be assigned to them. All seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by direct election. Seats for Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved in proportion to their population in the Panchayat area. Each of the Panchayati Raj Institution shall continue for five years. The state legislature can bestow legal powers on Panchayati Raj Institution to frame policies for achieving social justice and economic development. They can also be empowered to collect money and to launch their projects. Provision has been made for setting up a Financial Commission and an Election Commission in the state.
It is hoped that the Panchayati Raj Institution will show magical effects for the rural uplift in the country.
Courts in India
A democratic government has three organs. The legislature makes the laws. The executive enforces the laws and carries out administration of the state. The judiciary punishes the lawbreakers and settles disputes. It is an essential organ of the state in the federal system of India.
The citizens enjoy various rights. No person can be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. The main function of the judiciary is the protection of life, property, faith and civil liberties. The judiciary has the authority to see that the citizen’s rights are not violated by the government or some other agencies/organizations. The judiciary is also needed to settle the disputes between the Centre and the state or between the states. The judiciary is also responsible for the interpretation of the Constitution. It may declare a law, passed by the legislature, illegal or invalid if it is against the provisions of the constitution.
Judiciary is also required for its advisory functions. The President of India may seek the opinion or advice of the Supreme Court on any vital issue. Equality before the law is the fundamental right of the citizen of a democracy. The judiciary is meant to see that the country is governed according to the laws of the land.
The existence of an independent judiciary ensures the success of democracy. The judiciary protects the innocent but punishes the guilty through the rule of law. It can perform its functions well if it is presided over by the judges who really impart justice. The judges are required to be independent and impartial. They must have the security of their life and service. The courts must be free from the government’s influence or must not depend on the executive.
The judges can work honestly and impartially only if there is a separation of the judiciary from the executive. There is a single unified judicial system or a single integrated system of courts in India to administer both the Union and the State laws.
The Supreme Court Settles the disputes between the Centre and the states. Both the Supreme Court and the High Coutts protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of India. They issue necessary directions to the concerned authorities in this direction. The Supreme Court is the final ‘Interpreter’ and ‘Guardian’ of the Indian Constitution. There is no appeal against its judgment. Its verdict is binding on all the courts existing in India. The President can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of Law. The Supreme Court of India comprises a chief justice (of India) and not more than 25 other judges. The Parliament can, however, change the number of its judges by passing a law. An ‘appeal can be made to the Supreme Court in Constitutional, Civil and Criminal cases.
A High Court is the highest court in the state. Each High Court comprises a Chief Justice. The number of judges varies from state to state in India. The state high courts also have original, appellate and administrative jurisdictions. The High Court can issue writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of citizens. It also settles cases regarding marriage, divorce, will, contempt of court, etc. It hears appeals against the judgments of the subordinate courts in all types of criminal and civil cases.
The courts at the district level and below are called the subordinate courts. Ordinary people come in contact with the subordinate judiciary or courts. Administration of Justice at the district level is carried on by three types of courts. The Civil Courts hear the cases dealing with disputes over land, property, money transactions, marriage, divorce, will, etc. The criminal courts deal with cases related to violation of laws-physical assault, theft, robbery, pickpocketing, murder, etc. The Revenue Courts deal with cases related to the assessment and collection of Land revenue, property tax. etc. The Lok Adalats, Public Interest Litigation, Family Courts, Mobile Courts, Legal aid, etc. are also a part of our judicial system. Their aim is to avoid delay in providing justice to the weaker sections of the society.